SACRAMENTO – More than a third of California’s single women live in poverty, according to a report released Wednesday by the San Francisco-based Women’s Foundation.
The report comes as Gov. Gray Davis is proposing to fill a $23.6 billion budget deficit with heavy cuts to health care and social service programs for the poor.
“In terms of measuring economic health, with women being the thermometer, our findings indicate that California has a chronic flu,” Patti Chang, the foundation’s president, said at a Capitol news conference Wednesday.
The foundation studied government statistics, previously published sources and conducted interviews. It’s report found that 37 percent of single women in California live below the federal poverty rate — compared with 25 percent nationwide.
Women of color and older single women are the most likely to live in poverty, the foundation reported.
California ranks 48th among states in the nation in the number of residents who own homes. Because of the growing gap between wages and rents, two-thirds of low-income people spend more than 70 percent of their income on housing, the report found.
Women make up nearly half the state’s labor force but are concentrated in traditional low-income occupations such as services and administrative support, the report said.
Recently released census figures show that despite the roaring economy of the 1990s, the percentage of California families living in poverty is growing.